As we continue having debates regarding rights, freedoms, and full citizenship for people in same-gender relationships, we may want to conserve our energy and make our discussions more efficient and accurately reflective of every type of relationship.
As I watched Current TV, the channel developed by former vice-president Al Gore, and Illinois senator, Al Franken (D), I heard a woman say that these debates, especially those going toward the U.S. Supreme Court, are made more challenging because the word sex is involved. The word to which she was referring was, “Homosexuality.”
If it’s really an issue, why not use a different word? The Latin word, “homo,” means, “same.” “Hetero,” mean “different.” The Latin root, “amor,” means, “love.”
Homoamorous means two people of the same gender love one another.
Heteroamorous means two people of different genders love one another.
So, why not change the word. It’s not as though we’re using ancient or sacred words to describe our relationships. “Homosexuality” was coined on May 6, 1869 by Karoly Maria Benkert, a 19th Century Hungarian physician, who first broke with traditional thinking when he suggested that people are born homosexual and that it is unchangeable. With that belief as his guide, he fought the Prussian legal code against homosexuality that he described as having “repressive laws and harsh punishments (Conrad and Angel, 2004).”
One would suspect that Dr. Benkert would appreciate this change in lexicon so that we change our focus in this debate from sex to love. John and Frank are not two people in sex. They are two people in love. Deborah and Sheila are not two women who spend their lives sexing each other, they are two women loving each other. This is especially true because homosexuality has been demedicalized in so many ways.
If we’re going to have to have this debate in the first place, let’s speak accurately about the people involved. We are homoamorous people. We are two people of one gender who are in love. Those in opposite gender relationships are heteroamorous.
How complicated can that be? If I were to approach someone and ask them if they’d like a slice of bread, their first question is likely, “What kind is it?” As a people, we love clarity. Homosexuality and heterosexuality are simply not clear enough terms for the breadth of our relationship. Homoamorosity and heteroamorosity are clear winners when it comes to describing the relationships with which I am most familiar.
Sexuality is an important, if not a terribly time consuming part of most marriage relationships. It helps motivate our interest in a particular person whose gender is consistent with what we prefer; however, that, too, is not always the case.
Is it unthinkable that two people can have a relationship that is purely emotional in form, without sex, who continue to love one another nonetheless? Ask many people who are of a certain age.
Homoamorosity and heteroamorosity are not only options for the terms homosexuality and heterosexuality, they might even be the preferred forms given their more emotionally inclusive qualities.
My mother used to say, when trying to get the direct truth out of me, “Jim, call a spade a spade.” Although I never played bridge, from which this term comes, I knew what she meant. Name something as it is. I now get that message all the more clearly.
2010, Plato.stanford.edu. Retrieved from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/homosexuality/
Conrad, P., & Angell, A. (2004). HOMOSEXUALITY AND REMEDICALIZATION. Society, 41(5), 32-39. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.
There are many people who have lived in the United States of America who have not had a voice. Those voiceless people were expected by those in power to sit silently as others made decisions for them.
The Native Americans were expected to stand aside as Europeans settled their sacred land.
African natives and their descendants were expected to work as slaves as European descendants built their livelihoods on these slaves’ sweat and blood.
The Chinese railroad workers were expected to accept what they received as they built the Transcontinental Railroad.
Mexicans were expected to work as farm laborers without adequate pay or human services while farmers earned their living.
The one thing each of these oppressed groups had in common was that they all spoke up. They fought back. Those wise enough and strong enough stepped up to demand that their message be heard. The voices of John Smith and Pocahontas in Jamestown, Virginia; the Chinese striking railroad workers on Donner Pass, in 1867; Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War; and Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta during the founding of the National Farmworkers Association, all resounded throughout the country as their messages of equality, health, safety, and full citizenship were heralded.
We are facing a federal court case in San Francisco that will assess whether the vote on California’s Proposition 8 was legal. Prop 8 passed in November 2008 and because it passed, the now enforceable California Marriage Protection Act added language to Section 7.5 of Article 1, of the California Constitution that stated, “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid in California.”
As we look toward the future of equal marriage rights and citizenship rights for the gay community, we are fortunate to have many voices calling for full citizenship in the United States. The tragic part is that the one voice that is more necessary than any others is falling eerily silent during this time of change.
Instead of standing tall for the freedom and voice of the gay community, President Barack Obama is peering from the sidelines. Rather than stating emphatically that the rights of one citizen of our country shall be granted, without hesitation or fear, to all citizens of our country, regardless of race, creed, economic status, disability, or sexual orientation, he simply waits quietly. Somehow, amazingly, President Obama appears to believe that we should allow this debate to continue as a people while hearing only a vacuum in the Oval Office.
From Presidents Bush, Reagan, Nixon, Ford, and others of their ilk, this philosophy of inequality is strangely understandable. Because they were reared in another social era, holding onto conservative beliefs, their frames of reference should be expected to be as they were.
With Presidents Carter and Clinton, the time had not yet arrived for this message of equality.
As for President Bush, Jr., our expectations of him had to be held very, very low because he was just not capable of anything more.
“And to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required: and to whom they commit much, of him will they ask the more.” Luke 12:48 (Holy Bible)
Not only has President Obama been given the mantle of President, he has also been given a place in American history that not one other human being can ever have. He is the first African-American to hold this position. With that place in history, Americans have incredibly high expectations of him. We must remember, however, that he is not obligated to support all equal rights issues just because he holds this place in American history. He is simply a human being making human decisions.
Perhaps because of the powerful Black leaders of the past, including Frederick Douglas, Sojourner Truth, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and General Colin Powell, we’ve hoped that President Obama would join their ranks in fearless defense of all citizens of our country. That simply may not be the case. He may just wait for others to do the work before he steps up to say, “Well done.”
The hardest part for many people in this country is to imagine that President Obama will blandly meld into the lineage of so many other American presidents by turning what could have been a dynamic era in U.S. history into a watered down revisitation of other administrations. Perhaps he will lean more toward his European heritage and become the politician that so many U.S. presidents have become instead of the noble statesman he has the capacity to become.
The truth is, Americans do expect more from President Obama. At a certain level, he is the first of his culture to leap the White House in a single bound. He is, I suppose, perceived as our Captain America. He shouldn’t be. He’s just a person like the rest of us.
After all his promises of change, the only real change we may see through him is his ethnic background. He may prove to disbelievers that there really is no difference between the races or cultures in America. Any person in the White House can be just as afraid of disapproval as any other person, and in that fear, remain silent when there are people who need vocal and active leadership.
What if on June 9, 2010, (6/9 for those who enjoy a naughty giggle), the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community stopped buying anything across the country? What would happen to the American economy?
In very loose numbers, it is estimated that in 2006, $660 billion were spent by the LGBT community in 2006. That number is expected to rise to $835 billion in 2011. I’ve seen numbers that indicate as much as over two trillion dollars will be spent by the LGBT community in 2012. Even if any of these numbers are off by a few billion, the numbers are truly staggering.
The LGBT community has the power to put a dent in our economy, and yet, we don’t know our own strength. If we don’t know it, how can anyone else feel that power?
It makes sense to validate that most efficient force by damming up the economic river for just a moment in time.
Here is the plan for June 9, 2010:
Every member of the LGBT and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) communities will commit to:
2. not buy or trade one stock or bond in any stock market in the world;
3. withdraw 0.1% of your money from every account you own (e.g. If you have $1,000.00, you would withdraw $1.00 and if you have $100, you would withdraw $0.10);
4. not donate one item to charity;
5. not go to work or school for at least half a day;
6. not use a computer or cell phone for one day;
7. not use any electricity or gas that is not life-preserving;
8. not drive anywhere in your automobile;
9. do whatever else you feel is appropriate, healthy, and safe to make an economic statement about the strength of the LGBT community;
10. Finally, to make June 9 a day of silence to reflect the silence our country is asking us to provide regarding our needs, including equal access to marriage, health care, law, education, and employment.
Be sure to contact your legislator by June 8 to advise them of your intentions.
We have seven-and-a-half months to prepare. In that time, we can clearly create the environment that well over half of our country wishes from us. This will certainly let them know, “Watch what you wish for!”
What happens if the LGBT and PFLAG community disappeared and we took our money and expertise with us? We’d have a pretty good idea about the impact of that situation, wouldn’t we?
If you’re interested in participating, please contact me on my Facebook page, June 9, 2010 – Invisible Gay Day.
Dear President Obama,
As we evaluate what happened in Maine as marriage equality, via Question 1, went down with a similar margin as is did in California with Proposition 8, a vivid memory from over thirty years ago comes to mind, in the way a locust comes to a field of corn.
When I was a young father, I used to smoke around my children and in the house. I smoked in the car and at work. I smoked everywhere.
As my children grew, I would lecture them on the dangers of smoking, even as I went to the hospital for asthma and two strokes in my forties from smoking. I did begin smoking in a different room than the one in which my children were playing. I did all these “better” things, but I never quit. I never took action to model a “best” behavior for them.
I believe that this is what you have done to the gay and lesbian community. You’ve talked a lot about your support of the LGBTQ community. You’ve signed ENDA and the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law. You’ve done all this, but you have not repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and you have not repealed the Defense of Marriage Act. I remember mentioning that we would see how you’d done by this time in my commentary of May 2009, “DOMA, DADT, and the President of the United States.”
You have given tacet approval to everyone in the United States to stand by their arrogant bigotry by not taking action. Maine’s response to Question 1 raises our questions about your commitment to the tasks at hand, especially considering that on your White House contact website, there isn’t even a category for civil rights. Our issues are relegated to the cruel word, “Other.” It makes me believe that some of us American citizens are seen as “those people.”
For the record, every single one of my children ended up smoking. Although they are now in their 30’s and 40’s for the most part, and making their own choices, they initially learned from me that smoking was o.k. I am saddened every day by that fact as they end up in the hospital with asthma and bronchitis. I am saddened that they may develop emphysema or lung cancer and die the way their great-grandparents did, and as I, it appears, shall do as well. I am saddened that their children, of which there are nine between them, will learn the same lessons from my children as mine did from me. The impact of my smoking has become generational.
Are you going to allow the impact of your inaction toward the necessary civil rights issues before you to become generational, as well?
With my husband, David, we signed our Domestic Partnership documents in August 2005. In August 2006, we were married in a religious ceremony, and in doing so, we became husbands to one another. You, Mr. President, however, have no record of that marriage. Neither does anyone else, except in the hearts of those in attendance. Is that the life you would want with Mrs. Obama?
Next time you have a cigarette, (and because I, too, continue to struggle with my nicotine addiction, I know there will be another cigarette, Mr. President), each time you take a drag, think about the gay community. Each cigarette represents another gay person who is being discriminated against. Each puff represents one more day that American citizens are being kept from equality. Every butt you throw away is the dream of a gay couple whose hope for their 50th wedding anniversary that has been dashed.
So, I raise my filled ashtray to you, President Obama, in hopes that you will both stop smoking and make the changes to our laws that will provide equality to all people in America.
James S. Ch. Glica-Hernandez
Sent Wednesday, November 4, 2009 9:15 PM PST
If Nathan Lane was President of these here United States of America (with Harvey Fierstein as Vice President, and Hedda Lettuce as U.S. Attorney General), his administration would have been required to support the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) as it was for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in response to a court battle. It is the law that the Department of Justice must always file friends of the court/amicus briefs that support current law. We should not be getting upset about this amicus brief. It’s a non-issue.
What should have gone along with this brief, however, is a statement from the President indicating his focus on getting a quick legislative repeal of DOMA. His speech at the National Equality March did give us more hope; however,that’s how this should have been handled in the first place.
It’s frustrating to realize that we are having issues regarding civil rights in our third century of existence as a country; we, whose ancestors left England, and many other countries for that matter, for freedom.
I remember thinking as a teacher about students who took a long, long time to get the concepts I was putting forth, “Bless their pointed little heads.”
Sometimes, that’s the way I feel about us as a nation.
“Bless our pointed little heads.”
My point is, let’s stay focused on our next move and not get bogged down in those things we cannot change.
Stay focused, people!
Let me set the stage for you, my friends:
People, through no fault of their own, besides being born with a particular genetic package, are beaten, killed, and socially isolated and demeaned. They are set apart as different in their communities and are told they should be grateful for what they do have. Those in power bellow from every pulpit and soapbox that their rights to maintain the status quo should not be changed, let alone questioned. They insist that changing how things have always been done will destroy their lives.
Is this a description of the Deep South prior to the Emancipation Proclamation? Well, yes, it is. Is this a description of the United States in the Twenty-first Century? Sadly, the answer to this is, “Yes,” as well.
If I were a slave and my owner walked into my house and started telling me how to live, and I fought back, I would be beaten or killed. I am a gay man in California and people are still trying to walk into my house and tell me how to live. I am, of course, protesting. I have not been beaten. I have not been killed. There are those, however, who have been injured, some fatally, in this social battle.
If church leaders and those that support them do not believe that this comparison is fair, then they are blinded by their ignorance and fear. If they are unwilling to look at themselves fairly in the mirror to see themselves as they truly are, then they have actually turned the corner into becoming those plantation owners of over 150 years ago.
Every Sunday, and Saturday for some, a minister stands before his or her congregation speaking about the unconditional love of God. This same minister implores the congregation to love one another as God loves us. This is a great belief system, as far as I’m concerned.
What follows during some sermons, however, is diametrically opposed to this message. This opposing message is being carried on placards, t-shirts, and leaflets that state the following:
“God hates fags”
“Fags burn in hell”
“Homos eat small children” (I’m not kidding. I’ve seen it)
“Gay marriage destroys the sanctity of marriage”
“Kill all faggots”
How are any of these messages consistent with the concept of unconditional love? Even for those who say, “Love the sinner, hate the sin,” this horrific language cannot make sense to them. How is hatred a part of anything to do with God and faith?
I remember once in catechism at my Roman Catholic Church, Sister Cabrini, our teacher, asked the question, “How should we feel about the devil?”
I proudly and righteously raised my hand and said, “We should HATE the devil!”
“No, Jimmy,” said Sister Cabrini, “we should not hate the devil. We must understand that we must resist his temptation and rebuke his acts, but under no circumstances are we ever to hate anything or anyone.”
Although I no longer practice catholicism because I am a gay man, I love Sister Cabrini for teaching me that lesson over forty years ago.
All I ask is that those who hate so vehemently take a look at who they are for just a moment. Instead of judging everyone else, take a look at who the person in the mirror has become. Is being a person who hates someone else for the color of his skin or her sexual orientation the person he or she longs to be?
Most of the plantation owners, in their sense of God-given superiority, would have said a resounding, “Yes!”
My question is this – If we are obligated to stand before our God on Judgement Day with all our signs, t-shirts, hats, and intentions, what would God say about us?
I’d love to hear the answer to that question. I’d love that a lot.
And, for those who are curious, here is my symbol:
The top heart symbolizes my desire to love, supported by the second heart which recalls the love of God. The droplets represent our pain, but the red hearts shine through even our darkest hours.
The National Equality March in Washington, D.C., scheduled for October 10-11, 2009, presented Americans an opportunity to offer their three-minute speeches for selection for this event. They called it “March Equality Idol Auditions.” They asked that the theme reflect the reasons why it was important for the speaker to attend the March in Washington. The voting between the top five speeches will be on Facebook and YouTube. I only found out about the competition yesterday afternoon and I had to write the speech and get it filmed and sumbitted by today, Thursday September 17, 2009 at 5:00 PST. My video turned out very nicely, I think. Because of the lack of sufficient technology, I couldn’t find a way to download it onto my computer from the camera I have, and therefore, I didn’t submit it. I must admit I am deeply disappointed right now. I will always wonder if my speech would have been selected, even for the top five finalists.
First, I am proud that my husband, David, figured out how to get the video onto our computer so that I can share it with you here. Second, the text of the speech follows.
Here is the text of my speech. I hope you enjoy it.
A Family Tradition of Hope
by James C. Glica-Hernandez
Written September 16, 2009
Three weeks before my tenth birthday in 1969, the Stonewall Riots erupted. Being an avid reader of the newspaper even at that age, I knew what was happening in New York. Men in dresses were fighting against the tyranny of bigotry and second-class citizenry in the greatest metropolis of the United States. The truth is, I didn’t know what to think about seeing gay people in the light of day because I had already been questioning my own sexuality in the haze of shame that every young, gay boy felt back then, and probably still does.
A mere nine years later, then having a wife and child, and having come out to my family, I found myself marching under a drizzly Sacramento sky, in my first gay pride parade at the urging, and in the presence, of my beloved father, Floyd Glica. When I protested about marching in the rain, Dad told me, “Jim, if we don’t stand up for who you are today, you will always be trampled upon by those who don’t like you just because you’re gay. We have to march.”
That day in 1978, I learned about gay pride from my fearless, remarkable Dad.
I am now the patriarch of my family, including my husband, five children, and nine grandchildren. I have seen someone in every generation of my family, as well as my students, wrestle with questions about their own sexuality. Sadly, they’ve learned that they will have a lesser experience in the U.S. as a gay, lesbian, or bisexual person than a straight person would.
My presence at the 2009 National Equality March is borne out of my love for my family, friends, and students. Together, we demand the necessary leadership from President Obama and Congress that creates a voice, like my father’s, that mandates equality and freedom for all.
The late Senator Edward Kennedy, arguably the most valiant warrior for equality ever to have graced the Senate floor, made a vital statement in 2007 regarding ENDA. He said, “America stands for justice for all. Congress must make clear that when we say ‘all,’ we mean all. America will never be America until we do.”
The Chávez-Glica-Hernandez family thanks you for this opportunity to join with your families in a community of hope, power, and vibrant leadership to ensure that we all… Senator Kennedy’s all… my father’s all… are able to participate and contribute to our society as free men and women; free from the branding of sexuality, gender, color, religion, national origin, disability, or economic status, as it must be in these United States of America.
Sometimes, change happens all at once. Usually, however, it happens in tiny increments, especially when it comes to social change.
United States Senator Barbara Boxer (California) recently distributed an e-mail indicating that she is joining a bipartisan group of Senators in introducing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The passage of ENDA would prohibit all employers, employment agencies, labor organizations and other groups who hire and fire staff from firing, refusing to hire, or discriminating against anyone on the basis of their perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity.
This bill has already been supported by high profile national civil rights and labor organizations and more than fifty Fortune 500 companies.
One must wonder if the significance of this era is being missed by those who feel they are not directly involved in the movement toward the eradication of discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender citizens?
Is it even possible to realize how important a particular shift in public perception is until after the transition is complete? The movements to ensure a woman’s right to vote and the acknowledgement of and action against racial discrimination began in small ways, but it wasn’t until the lion’s share of the legislation was passed that we could begin to fathom just how pervasive the blight of hatred and disrespect had been and how far we were stepping ahead.
Senator Boxer’s note to all of us was particularly welcome given that President Obama has shown so little dynamic leadership in relation to repealing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue (DADT) policies currently on the books in our country.
The best news about ENDA is that it is a bipartisan effort by our Federal legislators. Nothing gives us greater hope for our future than when, on both sides of the aisle, our elected officials choose to correct a horrible injustice in our laws and societal patterns in such a dynamic way.
Slowly, the awakening is beginning that each person, no matter how they are identified in the little boxes on most forms, has the right to all the freedoms promised in our United States Constitution. This new effort is one more important step.
Congratulations to everyone involved in the passage of this bill!
Seaman August Provost
Camp Pendleton, San Diego, CA.
Shot to death.
Died June 30, 2009
Seaman Allen R. Schindler, Jr.
Beaten to death
December 13, 1969 to October 28, 1992
Ft. Campbell, Ky
Beaten to death
August 31, 1977 – July 6, 1999
The strange thing is that I’m not going to discuss how they died. I’m not going to talk about their families. I’m not going to vent my outrage at their murderers.
I will simply say that these young men, and others unnamed in the media, closeted and afraid during their honorable service, died in the line of duty. They took their duty seriously enough to deny who they were. They carried their duty with enough gravity to set aside their own truth to live the military truth of the United States of America in order to serve our nation with distinction.
Through their fearful and oppressive environment, through the weight of institutionalized homophobia, through their youth and inexperience with the burden of true hatred, these valiant young men died in horrific ways, either in uniform or with their uniforms hanging in their barracks closet.
These are our children, America. Look at their faces and remember their names. They lived protecting us. We didn’t do the same for them. We killed them with our ignorance.
God rest their souls and bring them into the light of his blessings. Guide us to our awakening that nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of all our citizens. Amen.
It sounds so corny when I say it out loud, quite honestly. “I love the United States of America.” The reflection in the mirror I half-expect to see as I walk past as I speak these words is my rotund countenance draped in stars and stripes. That’s how silly it sounds to me to say it… at first.
Then, as I mull the phrase over in my head, I contemplate a few things that soften my attitude about this compilation of words.
First, I think about my Dad. (I always capitalize the word, “Dad,” when I refer to my father, whether it’s grammatically correct or not). My father fought in World War II. He was a decorated Pharmacist Mate. He served in both the Mediterranean and Asian theaters. He was a hero. Although he rarely spoke about his time in the Navy, I was always in awe that he fought the enemy and through his efforts, helped win the war. He fought for the freedoms that I have today. He, along with all the men and women who so valiantly served our country over the last two hundred-plus years, made a difference to us. I never forget that. I suppose that’s why, when I hear the National Anthem, I still get choked up. It happens every single time.
Second, I wonder where else on Earth I could walk down the street with the fearlessness I do. As a gay man, a Latino man, an older man, a man of lower-moderate socio-economic status, I am greeted warmly, loved openly, and respected for who I am, with all the diversity I embody. There are laws that protect me. I am, relatively speaking, safe.
Third, I can write to the President of the United States of America and say exactly what is on my mind. Because I have no desire to threaten anyone, I’m secure in the knowledge that my words count just as much as anyone else’s. It’s a sweet knowledge I carry inside my heart about my place here in the good ole U.S. of A.
I get angry, sometimes, at our legislators and our judges. I am often frustrated by our media services. The cost of things is abominable and the challenges to acquire health care for many is untenable. “Skinny people are too thin. Fat people are too fat.” Everyone has an opinion about everything.
We are, thankfully, able to express our opinions as freely as we belch. Unfortunately, some of our opinions are worth about the same thing. At least, we are able to send our thoughts out as easily as we throw a frisbee at a Fourth of July picnic.
We have had presidents, from Washington to Obama, that are nearly as diverse in thought and history as those of us in our neighborhoods. There were builders, deceivers, heroes and scoundrals, activitists and do-nothings. They were Americans.
Today, on this Fourth of July, 2009, I am not a hyphenate-American. I am simply, joyfully, and proudly an American.
So, as corny as it may sound, I will reiterate my feeling that I love the United States of America. God (or whomever you choose to believe in, if anyone) bless America!